WINCHESTER — During a Winchester School Board work session on Monday night, Stephens City resident Bryan Nuri addressed the board about his concern over V. Douglas Joyner’s new position as director of human resources for Winchester Public Schools.
Part of Joyner’s new duties include being the city school division’s Title IX officer, a role that makes him the go-to person for any alleged violations of the federal law that bans sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.
Nuri mentioned during the public comment portion of the work session that Joyner was named as a defendant, along with other school administrators, in a 2012 federal lawsuit filed by a former Handley High School student that said they did not do enough to protect her from a teacher’s sexual harassment. Joyner was Handley’s principal at the time. The teacher, Adrian A. Ellis, served jail time for taking indecent liberties with a student. The lawsuit was eventually withdrawn.
Joyner, who was at Monday night’s work session, resigned as Handley’s principal shortly after the lawsuit was filed. He then went to work in the school system’s Central Administrative Office. Joyner has worked in Winchester Public Schools for 24 years in multiple roles.
Nuri said he believes Joyner should no longer be in the school administration, particularly handling Title IX cases.
“It’s a grave injustice for this School Board to be ignoring this situation,” Nuri said.
According to Virginia law 24.2-233, Nuri noted that though Winchester School Board members are appointed to their positions by Winchester City Council, residents still have the power to remove them from office via petition.
“As appointed officials we can’t vote you out, but we can put a petition out,” Nuri said.
Joyner became the school division’s human resources director effective Aug. 3.
At a July 24 Winchester City Council meeting, Joyner’s appointment to the position was criticized by Handley teacher Danielle Bostick, the mother of a 15-year-old sexual assault victim who attends Handley. Joyner investigated a Title IX complaint filed by the girl’s family against school officials for not doing enough to protect her from the boy who pleaded no contest to the assault, creating what Bostick called a hostile school environment for her daughter. Joyner’s investigation concluded that school officials were not in violation of Title IX regulations.
“WPS [Winchester Public Schools] sends a message by appointing Joyner as the Title IX coordinator that Francesca’s nightmare is what victims of sexual violence can expect when they file a complaint,” Bostick said at the July 24 meeting. “City Council needs to do more than observe while WPS violates student rights and sends the message that sexual violence is not a big deal.”
After that meeting, where six others spoke out against the school’s handling of the case, City Council wrote in a letter that it would re-examine its appointment process for School Board members.
Joyner declined to comment and deferred to Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum, who issued the following statement: “Dr. Joyner has an excellent reputation as an employee of integrity and excellence for over twenty years in the Winchester Public Schools division. I have utmost confidence in his ability and integrity in his new role as the director of human resources.”